“Labor Day couldn’t come too soon/ As night time fell the serpent grew/ Snaking its way down 495/ Mimosa Monday was finally through.” So begins the song “Tumbleweed Tuesday,” a ballad by Shotgun Wedding, a Brooklyn-based “city-country” group comprising members of Billy Joel’s band. With strong ties out east, the band will perform at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett on August 24.
Here, bassist Andy Cichon talks about the band, the inspiration for “Tumbleweed Tuesday” and what it’s like to play on stage with Sag Harbor’s favorite piano man.
What will the show at the Talkhouse be like?
The five of us have spent a lot of time on the East End of Long Island. In fact, I met my wife at a birthday party there 17 years ago. We understand the lifestyle out there, both of the summer guests and the year-round locals, and that is reflected in a lot of the lyrics of our own material.
Can you talk about the musical style of Shotgun Wedding? How did it form?
Although all of the members of the band come from diverse musical backgrounds, we all embrace the storytelling nature of traditional country and its sincerity, so we write about tales of living in New York City, but to a more traditional country soundtrack. There is a lot of emphasis on vocal harmony and songwriting. We want you to feel that you can relate to what we’re singing about after one listen. The band was put together by Dennis DelGaudio [guitar/vocals], who joined Chuck Burgi [drums] and myself with Billy Joel at the Shea Stadium shows and toured with us. Wade Preston [piano/vocals] worked with Dennis and Chuck on the Movin’ Out Broadway show. Catherine Porter [vocals] was a collaborator of Wade’s and toured with Brian May. She brought an amazing energy and songwriting gift to the band; she joined about a year after the band was formed.
Talk about the song “Tumbleweed Tuesday.”
I first heard the term “Tumbleweed Tuesday” about 17 years ago, when I was hanging out in Sagaponack with an ex-local police chief and one of my closest friends. We all know how crazy it can be out on the East End in summer, but that is because it is one of the most stunning places in the country. The light is so special out there. I just like the fact that after Labor Day, the locals get to reclaim it for themselves after the summer scene dies down a little. That’s pretty much what the song is about: a summer in the Hamptons from a local’s perspective.
How did you become a part of Billy Joel’s band? What are some memorable moments?
I filled in for two shows in late 1999, and I guess it went well. Billy asked me to join permanently after that. Working with him is a true joy; he treats all of us so well. This is why so many of us have worked with him for so long. There is always an edge to the show—he encourages us to take musical chances. This is what keeps the show fresh and exciting. All of the shows are great, and Madison Square Garden is always special. The Shea Stadium shows and the 2013 Jazzfest were standouts for me.
Do you have a favorite Billy Joel song to perform?
“Zanzibar” is one of my favorites, as I get to listen to Carl Fischer’s amazing trumpet solo. I also love the story that Billy tells of Brenda and Eddy in “Italian Restaurant.” I’m also a huge fan of the song “Travelin’ Prayer;” so much so that we do a Shotgun Wedding twist on our cover of that great song. We’ll be playing it Monday night at the Stephen Talkhouse.
Shotgun Wedding plays the Stephen Talkhouse on Monday, August 24 at 8 p.m. For tickets ($10) visit stephentalkhouse.com or call 631-267-3117.